A Three Cat Law: Is This Fair?Published November 6, 2009
The sleepy little town of Dudley, Massachusetts, located in Worcester County, in the Worcester metropolitan area, (population in the 2000 census of 10,006) is certainly not feline friendly. In this writer's opinion the town made a terribly tragic mistake last Monday night, when they passed an ordinance making it illegal to own more than three cats without having to obtain a residential kennel license at a cost of $50.00. Voters added this language to the town by-laws, so folks, it is a done deal!
It seems that a neighborhood feud over the 15 cats owned by town resident Mary Ellen Richards is the reason for this ordinance's passage. According to the "Telegram & Gazette of Worcester" one neighbor blamed Ms. Richard's cats for ruining his yard. Another neighbor accused Ms. Richard's cats for being responsible for her two-year-old daughter contracting hand-foot-and mouth disease (Coxsackie virus) from a cat toy that may have come into contact with cat feces. Ms. Richards who is actively involved with Willy's Kitty Angels Rescue, an organization which traps feral and stray cats to help control the feline population. She takes these cats to free clinics to get them neutered or spayed, and then place them in foster homes outside the town. She says that all of her own cats receive appropriate veterinary care and are current in their vaccinations.
The Town of Dudley is fining Ms. Richards $100 a day for keeping more than three cats in the home she has owned since 1997. In an interview with the "Telegram & Gazette" she said, "This is the worst thing in my life to happen, this whole thing."
In comments made by readers of the newspaper's website, it was obvious that some people strongly supported the town's decision, while some thought it was ridiculous. One commenter, who signed her name as "Cat Mommy" posted, "When will we need licenses to have more than three children? This is stupid. My cats live inside and don't bother anyone. Hope they can sleep at night knowing that some lovely cats will be put to sleep or left outside in the cold now. Shame."
Another reader who was supportive of the ordinance posted, "I fully agree with them having to get a kennel license to have more than three cats. I currently have more than three dogs and in my town I have to have a kennel license for that so why should cats be any different. Especially when cats are allowed to roam free and dogs have to be leashed."
What gets me all riled up, making the hair on the back of my neck bristle is how narrow and limited the thinking was that went into the writing and passage of this legislation. Did the council take the time to consider the impact that this law may have on shelters, especially for cats that are in desperate need of adoptive homes? What effect will this law have on that abandoned orphaned kitten found wandering the streets? I shudder to think about it. What were these lawmakers thinking when they passed this ordinance?
Do you think this ordinance is fair? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.